The future climate of Texas is likely to be drier over the remainder of the 21st century than it has been in the last 1,000 years, a report published by Texas A&M, a university based in the US state.
The team of researchers used advanced climate models to predict the future climate of Texas, finding that it was getting hotter and drier, with decreasing water supplies.
“Our study shows that the drier conditions expected in the latter half of the 21st century could be drier than any of those ‘megadroughts’, depending on how you measure dryness,” Professor John Nielsen-Gammon, director of the Texas Center for Climate Studies and the Texas State Climatologist said in a report published by the University.
The researchers called for policy makers to develop serious programs to offset the damage that the future Texan climate will cause. Current water plans are not sufficient to deal with the likely fall in Texas’ water supply due to climate change, the researchers said.
“The state water plan doesn’t explicitly consider climate change in figuring out how water supply and water demand will both change,” Nielsen-Gammon added.
Texas’ current worst drought on record occurred in the 1950s, the state’s most severe in the past 125 years, but unfortunately this is not a useful yardstick for examining how to prepare for water shortages in the future, Nielsen-Gammon explained.
“Tying future water supply to criteria established by the drought of record is a defensible choice, but policymakers should be aware that the chances of exceeding the drought of record are probably increasing year by year,” he said.
Some parts of the state will also be hit harder than others, the report showed, with West Texas particularly at risk of drought or megadrought conditions.
“West Texas seems most likely to get a double whammy: decreased rainfall and increased temperatures … Even though rainfall has increased statewide over the past century by about 10 percent, west Texas has seen little to no increase,” Nieslsen-Gammon said.